There are hundreds of books out there on the topic of screenwriting. Some are helpful, others never really get to the point. The following books are not only extremely helpful, but they challenge you to write better and make quality scripts.
This book is the Holy Grail of screenwriting. While it’s not necessarily the ‘last book on screenwriting you’re ever need,’ I do think that it is one of the most important books. Save the Cat covers the ‘Beat Sheet’ in depth. It makes outlining a script easy and possible. Not only does Snyder explain and layout a beat sheet, but the book explains why those beats are so important to have in a script. If you follow the beats, chances are you are going to have a well structured script. Overall, this book is amazing for script beats.
Syd Field covers excellent material in his book. It truly is the foundations of writing a script. With this book, you will learn how to tackle a script from the beginning to end. Field also talks about format and gives multiple examples from successful scripts. Also, there are assignments at the end of each chapter so you can put to use what you have just learned. The book does begin to feel a bit repetitive, but it definitely gets its point across. Overall, this book is excellent for structure.
I loved this book from the opening. Not only does it break down the various aspects of playwriting (yes, it’s still helpful for screenplays), it explains in depth topics of drama including characters, premise, and plot. If you’re writing a script in the genre of drama, this book is a must read. Although the content is thick and it’s not as enjoyable and ‘fun’ to read, it’s packed with thought provoking information and challenges to write better dramas. Overall, this book is excellent for writing dramas.